Dave Raffel, CCAS BA ’76 and Pat French Raffel, CCAS BA ’78, who have been married for 35 years, first met in February 1976 at a GW vs. Georgetown basketball game (GW won!).
At the time, Dave was a senior and Pat was a sophomore. “She needed a ride back to campus after the game was over,” remembers Dave, who had driven to the game with his off-campus roommate, sophomore Bob King. Bob also happened to be Pat’s friend—they’d known one another since their freshman year, when they lived in Thurston Hall.
Pat had walked to the Georgetown campus for the game after working an afternoon shift at a grocery store on Washington Circle. When she saw Bob at the game, she asked how he was getting back to GW. Upon hearing that Bob had a ride, Pat asked if Bob thought his roommate would be willing to also drive her back to campus. Dave unhesitatingly agreed to drive all three back to campus.
Almost instantly there was a spark between Dave and Pat.
That spark grew even brighter after the three of them, along with Dave’s girlfriend at the time, made a trip out to Morgantown, WV to watch the Colonials play the Mountaineers in a conference playoff game.
The spark gradually grew to a flame. In March, Dave broke off his relationship with his previous girlfriend, and soon, Dave and Pat wen on “a very special first date.”
This “date” happened to also include Anoinette, a 95 year-old resident of the Washington Home for Incurables. Dave had been interning at the Washington Home for a psychology class, and had been visiting with Antoinette for quite some time. Antoinette had not been out of the Home for many, many years, and was craving an opportunity to enjoy a seafood dinner at a local restaurant called Hogate’s.
Dave and Pat got dressed-up for the occasion of fulfilling Antoinette’s wish. They drove to the Home to pick-up Antoinette, where, before leaving, they were given strict instructions by the dietitian at the Home that Antoinette could have any seafood she wished—except shellfish.
“Once we stashed Antoinette’s wheelchair into the small trunk of my car, we were off for the big evening!” the couple remembers.
The trio arrived at the restaurant and surveyed the menu upon receiving a table. Antoinette’s selection? Lobster.
“We told her that the dietitian said she could NOT have any shellfish, including lobster,” explains Dave. “[But] Antoinette quite emphatically insisted that she was 95 years old, and no dietitian was going to tell her what she could or could not eat. Needless to say, Antoinette enjoyed her meal.”
Despite Antoinette’s act of rebellion, and Dave and Pat’s shared fear that she would become ill on the way back to the Home, the dinner was “a great success.” Though their first official date was a bit of a roller coaster, the pair knew they had something special.
A few months later, in May, Dave graduated with a BA in psychology—and soon, he and Bob were off to spend several months in Israel.
“All during the time that I was gone, Pat and I wrote to each other and occasionally had the chance to talk on the phone—-no cell phones or Skype back in those days!” remembers Dave.
The flame of their love grew stronger and stronger. When Dave returned from Israel in October 1976, their relationship continued to flourish.
In May 1978, Pat graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science, and in September of the same year, she and Dave were married.
After spending time in Maryland and Pennsylvania, Dave and Pat now call the Kansas City, MO area home. They have three grown children and four grandchildren.
They also remain active in the GW alumni community and are members of the Luther Rice Society.
“We have always enjoyed visits back to DC and campus,” they explain. “Even though much of the campus is different now, the area still brings back many wonderful memories of where we met and started our lives together.”
And, they add, after the “match-making” that Bob King inadvertently arranged 38 years ago —“we are all still friends!”
-Dave Raffel and Pat French Raffel